When it comes to their safety and well-being, travelers are more willing to listen to a government agency than the private sector.
Surveying just over 1,000 people, PwC found that just 10% of travelers trust private companies when it comes to whether they can travel safely, while 59% rely on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 36% trust the federal government’s guidelines. (Note: The CDC is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.)
The survey was done in late April, and is the first of three the consulting firm will conduct over the normally busy summer travel season.
As the travel and hospitality industries slowly reopen, airlines and hotels have begun implementing new cleanliness standards, taking into consideration guidance from public health officials. Those standards, and consumers’ trust in them, will dictate how travelers’ dollars are spent.
The same survey concluded that brand trust, including “confidence in safety and cleanliness,” is the No. 1 purchase driver for both airlines and hotels alike.
“We think this is a moment for some of the big-name brands to really reassure consumers,” said Jennie Blumenthal, U.S. travel, transportation and hospitality leader at PwC. “Safety is the new loyalty.”
Among the other results of the survey:
- When asked about staying at a brand-name hotel, 16% said they will avoid it.
- That figure jumps to 37% for short-term rental properties like Airbnb.
- More than 43% said they are more likely to spend more money to distance themselves from other passengers on their next flight.
- Families with children were even more concerned, with 60% saying they will pay a premium for distance.
So far, airlines ranging from JetBlue to Delta have instituted some form of social distancing measures, although none have been federally mandated to do so.
Of those surveyed, 80% of respondents who flew in 2019 said they’d limit their next vacation to a personal vehicle. That collaborates with what the industry was already seeing, as hospitality brands have reported upticks at drive-to destinations.
As restrictions open regionally and travelers begin to venture outdoors, brands are going to have to engage with consumers during what appears to be the beginning of a recovery in the travel industry, with smaller budgets than ever.
“That’s really the dilemma that they’re struggling with,” Blumenthal said. “Marketers looking at a June, July timeframe are trying to meet people where they are mentally.”
Still, between cheap airfares and hospitality gimmicks, consumers are curious. After brand trust, the most popular factor for purchase decision for both hotels and airlines is price.